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Motivating a student. HELP!!!!

Reading | Literature 


New Member
Hey there! I am currently working on my masters in reading. I am working one on one with a student who is receiving RTI services. I have been working with this student for a number of weeks. As I watch him with the RTI instructor he is very outgoing, talkative, and enthusiastic about the learning taking place, but when he works with me he completely shuts down! He does not talk much and when he does he whispers short answers or phrases. My question is how can I help motivate this student to open up and engaged in the learning process. I feel that I have created a warm and open environment but I just cannot seem to connect with this particular child. I have never had this problem before. Please give me advice!!


Full Member
When you are working with the student is there anyone else around? Have you considered adding another student to see if that changes the dynamic?

I had a new student that was very similar. He came in one day and saw me playing an Ipad game with a different student and he started to warm up. I think the anxiety of being 1:1 was a little overwhelming.

The other thing would be to spend the first two minutes with a "check in." This might be a silly question, "If you could have any super power what would it be?" or "Tell me three things you did last night."

Never underestimate the power of novelty. Some times reading like a mouse, talking like a robot, wearing a mustache can be the thing to start breaking through to these kids. I truly believe that 80% of my job is getting the kids to feel like they are safe enough to take risks and try the things that are hard for them. Once they start to believe it the rest comes along.


New Member
Motivation challenge

Ask him to bring in a mystery bag. Tell him he should include items that describe him and his interests. Ask his RTI teacher about his hobbies. You make a mystery bag as well. Make sure you have somethings in common with your student.

Often these children are afraid of making a mistake in front of someone they do not know. See if he will engage in play acting, or pantomime. See if he likes sports. Find out about his favorite sports team and center a reading activity around that. Ask him to teach you! Put the books away and engage him in an interactive game using the smart board or tablet.

If you are able, take him outside and work on a skill. Often walking around in an open less confined area helps.

You are going to have to dig a little deeper with this child. Don't give up!!

Good Luck!